Researchers Set off for the Solomon Islands

by AMNH on

From the Field posts

American Museum of Natural History scientists first experienced the beauty and incredible biodiversity of the Solomon Islands nearly 100 years ago on a legendary expedition to collect birds, plants, and anthropological items. This month, Museum researchers are back in the captivating archipelago with scientific tools their predecessors couldn’t have dreamed of.

Explore21 R/V Alucia (ship)
The Explore21 team is traveling aboard the research vessel Alucia, pictured here. This photographs was taken from a Triton submarine that researchers are using to study the oceans.
AMNH/CUNY David Gruber

High-resolution underwater cameras, a submersible, and an on-board genomic sequencing lab will assist researchers on The Explore21 Solomon Islands Expedition in the exploration of the mysterious organisms that light up the Solomon Islands’ dark waters, uncharted microbial life, and the rich diversity of fishes, corals, and other animals.

Led by Museum ichthyologist John Sparks, this groundbreaking expedition is the first under Explore21, a Museum initiative that will foster a series of innovative scientific expeditions that meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Explore21 Team Leaves AMNH
In September 2013, the Explore21 expedition team waved good-bye to the Museum, bound for the Solomon Islands. The team is led by Museum Curator John Sparks; and includes Dawn Roje, a Ph.D. student at the Museum's Richard Gilder Graduate School; David Gruber, a marine biologist at the Museum; Eunsoo Kim, assistant curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology; and Robert Schelley, from the Museum's Department of Ichthyology.
© AMNH/R. Mickens

Joining Sparks on this multidisciplinary expedition is Eunsoo Kim, an assistant curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology; Chris Filardi, director of Pacific Programs in the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation; David Gruber, a marine biologist at the Museum and the City University of New York; Vincent Pieribone, a molecular biologist at the Museum and Yale University; Robert Schelley, a scientific assistant in the Museum’s Department of Ichthyology; and Dawn Roje, a Ph.D. student in the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School.

Explore21 David Gruber and Triton submarine
David Gruber entering the Triton submarine for first night deployment dive off Mbulo Island, Solomon Islands.
Ken Corben

Members of the expedition will be blogging from the field over the next few weeks and sending back images and video of their work. 

Explore21 Triton deploy
Reaching the surface: This is the view from Triton submarine surfacing after the first day dive. The R/V Alucia is in the background getting in position for retrieval. 
© AMNH/CUNY David Gruber

Watch a video from the early days of their voyage, including a trip in the Triton submarine. 

The Museum greatly acknowledges the Dalio Foundation for its generous support of the inaugural Explore21 expedition.

The Museum's Explore21 Initiative is generously supported by the leadership contributions of Katheryn P. and Thomas L. Kempner, Jr., and Linda R. and William E. Macaulay.